Unions slam Portugal's new austerity measures

Unions slam Portugal's new austerity measures
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There has been fierce condemnation of new tough austerity measures announced by Portugal’s prime minister.

Pedro Passos Coehlo said last night the government will raise social security contributions from 11 to 18 per cent next year.

The move is designed to counter a court ruling that prohibited a cut in salary benefits for only public sector workers.

Passos Coehlo also revealed he plans to axe companies’ welfare contributions to 18 per cent from 23.75 per cent to stimulate hiring.

But Portugal’s main trade union claims the new measure will hit struggling family budgets.
CGTP union leader Armenio Carlos described the government’s move as a “declaration of war against workers.”

“This will lead to a reduction in consumption, companies going bankrupt, the destruction of employment, job losses, inequality, poverty and social exclusion,” he said.

“It will also cut the income of public, private and retired people by more than 4 billion euros next year,” Carlos added.

The Portuguese have already been confronted with across-the-board tax rises and spending cuts. The country was forced to seek a bailout last year and entered its deepest recession since the 1970s.